A genus of flower plants in the spiderwort family, Callisia is a group of plants that includes those that are commonly and affectionately referred to as roselings. Native to the Western Hemisphere from the southern US to Argentina, this plant is known for its beauty and ease of growth.
This plant is known above all for its gorgeous flowers. In fact, the genus name Callisia is derived from the Greek word “kallos,” which means “beauty.” With foliage that feels rubbery to the touch and delicate flowers in white, pink, and other colors, this lovely plant is worth a second thought.
There are many different species of this genus to consider growing, including the famed Callisia fragrans, C. graminea, and C. rosea. Some, like C. rosea (also known as Piedmont roseling) have delicate pink leaves while others are white or purple. Some, like Callisia repens, are best known for their foliage and creeping growth habit instead of their flowers.
There are lots of different features to choose from, but in most cases, all are easy to grow and require similar conditions.
Let’s dive in to learn everything you need to know about cultivating this attractive houseplant!
|Common names||Callisia, roselings|
|Height and Width||0.5–1 ft. tall (indoors), 0.5-1 ft. wide (indoors)|
|Origin||Southern US, Central and South America|
|Flower colors||Pink, white, purple, etc.|
|Foliage color||Dark and light green|
|Sun Exposure||Indirect sunlight or parietal shade|
|Soil Type & pH||Sandy, acidic soil?|
|Special features||Low Maintenance, good for containers, attracts pollinators, can be toxic to pets|
How to Grow Callisia
A native perennial, callisia is closely related to other spiderworts. It is known for its ability to tolerate just about everything, from intense heat and humidity to the threat of disease. A low-maintenance plant, callisia requires minimal care, growing best in partial shade and sandy, acidic soil.
Growing zones vary depending on which type of callisia you grow, but in most cases, it can be grown outdoors in plant hardiness zones 6A to 9B. However, most people choose to grow this specimen as a houseplant to add interest to the home without a lot of fuss and maintenance.
In addition to planting in sandy, acidic soil, keep in mind that, if you grow your callisia outdoors or even on a sunny windowsill, you may have a few visitors! Pollinators of all kinds love clusia plants, so you may find that you have some new friends stopping by your windowsill.
This houseplant can be propagated by seeds or by division. To propagate by seed, either sow seeds in the spring in moist seed-starting mixture or get your own seeds by working with mature plants. The plants bloom from spring until early summer, opening in the morning and closing by mid-afternoon.
The fruits of these plants mature no later than three weeks after flowering. Once the capsule becomes dry and papery, you can split it open to release the seeds. These can be scattered freely in the garden, where they will germinate in about two weeks or sown in seed starting trays indoors.
You can also choose to propagate your plant by taking cuttings in the fall. To do this, cut off a stem you’d like to keep, ideally one with a few green leaves. Strip the bottom two to three leaves, then place the stem in the container, inserting it in the soil only up to the point where the leaves start. Use a mixture of potting soil and perlite for this. Once you see new leaves, that’s a sign that rooting has occurred and you can transplant the callisia to a new pot.
Most types of callisia prefer soil that is slightly moist and fertile. Acidic soil is preferred. Use well-draining soil that contains about 50/50 potting soil with perlite or succulent mix. This will help the soil drain while also retaining the water and nutrients your plants need.
Pruning is not necessary when it comes to caring for your plant, but it can help it look a bit more attractive. Simply pinch the growing tips every now and then when your plant starts looking a bit bedraggled. Pinching the growing tips will help the plant grow in a more compact form.
You can trim the plant if it becomes extremely straggly. It will regrow well even after an intense, heavy handed haircut!
Repotting and Transplanting
Report your plant once every three years. Do so into a houseplant-specific potting mix and consider adding a bit of succulent potting mix into the container to ensure that it drains well, too.
Be careful handling the roots when you transplant your callisia, as it is prone to wilting if it experiences any transplant shock at all.
How to Care for Callisia
Now that you know what to look for in a plant and how to start growing it, here are some tips to help you keep your plant alive and growing well!
Again, this is not a plant that enjoys having its feet wet! You want to avoid soggy soil at all costs. Make sure you allow your plant to dry out between waterings. Less than an inch of water per week, in most cases, is desired.
Use only planters with adequate drainage holes. Otherwise, you may find that your plant develops fatal conditions like root rot or fails to grow as expected. Watering once every three to four days is usually sufficient.
Keep your callisia in bright, indirect light when grown indoors. Some varieties of callisia prefer a bit more shade while others like more sun, especially when you’re growing outdoors. Be sure to pay attention to the requirements of the specific type of plant you are growing to know for sure.
In most cases, full sun is recommended in the winter but in the summer, indirect light or partial shade is preferred to prevent the leaves from burning.
Temperature and Humidity
Warmer temperatures are preferred by this plant. Ideally, these should be above 70 degrees Fahrenheit or more. In the winter, you can drop the temperature range a bit lower – around 50 to 60 degrees is fine, as this will mimic the natural period of dormancy the plant would have in the wintertime.
As for humidity, you shouldn’t have to do too much in order to ensure proper levels for your plant. The levels that most of us prefer in our own homes are generally adequate for callisia – no need to mist or run a humidifier to keep this gorgeous specimen content.
Fertilize your callisia plant with a regular 10-10-10 fertilizer in the spring, summer, and fall months. You can apply this about once a month but stop fertilizing in the winter which is the planet’s period of dormancy. You should also water less often during this time to ensure the plant has an adequate rest period before it goes back into the growing season.
Pest and diseases
Callisia isn’t prone to very many pests and diseases. It is a hardy plant, to say the very least. You may want to watch out for typical houseplant invaders, such as mealybugs, whiteflies, spider mites, and scale insects.
Most of these can be prevented with proper watering and fertilizing, but if they become a problem, you can use home remedies like neem oil or rubbing alcohol to get rid of them.
As far as diseases go, keep an eye out for things like leaf spot disease, powdery mildew, and root rot. Proper watering is generally the key to remedying and preventing the vast majority of these diseases in your houseplant.
Common Varieties and Cultivars
There are many callisia species and varieties you might consider growing in your home, including:
- C. cordifolia (Florida roseling)
- C. fragrans (Basketplant)
- C. gentlei
- C. graminea Grassleaf roseling)
- C. navicularis
- C. ornata (Florida scrub roseling)
- C. repens (Creeping inch plant)
- C. rosea (Piedmont roseling)
There are so many benefits to growing this beautiful houseplant. In addition to serving as a gorgeous houseplant, callisia can help purify the air of indoor pollutants.
Depending on the type of callisia you’d ride to grow, some are edible and can be used in herbal remedies. The mature leaves can be cut right off the plant and gnawed on to relieve all kidneys of digestive problems! This plant is also a powerful antibacterial, antibiotic, and antioxidant agent.
In some countries, parts of callisia are consumed in vodka and used as a tonic for inflammation, cancer, skin problems, colds, and more. Oil infused with callisia can be used as a joint or muscle rub, too!
With so many reasons to consider growing callisia – not to mention its unending beauty! – what are you waiting for? Grow a few of these elegant houseplants today.